Women in Leadership

The Boss is the Boss, No Matter Where They Came From

Diane Dutton asked:

When you decide if your employer is a good fit, you may want to look deeper than the company name, you may want to “investigate the boss!”

The importance of a good fit in your career is an understatement. As you put your career in the hands of your employer you must know what you are stepping into before you begin. In this series of articles we will explore some of these issues:

1. Should you put your career in anyone’s hands but your own?

2. Is it better to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?

3. Private company or public company?

4. Corporate Executive or Entrepreneur?

The culture of an organization is many times created from the top down. For you to decide if a position is a good fit, it’s important to understand the culture within an organization prior to accepting a position. The culture in many ways is influenced by the history of its leadership. An entrepreneur creates a completely different culture than his or her corporate executive counterpart. Let’s see if we can understand these two personalities.

What is an entrepreneur? You know, you see them all the time, the guy with the great idea who is quick on his feet. Next thing you know, he has turned that idea into a fast moving product you notice on the shelf at your local store. This person is great to work for. The entrepreneur is so energetic and full of enthusiasm, full of quick answers to get the business ball rolling. The entrepreneur is filled with a passion and drive for his company.

What happens to so many of these exciting entrepreneurs as their ideas take shape, take off – their business grows faster than they can handle. They find themselves short of a very important resource – qualified management assistance. This happens for several reasons: 1. “I’ll hire competent (expensive) help once I get some return on my investment” or 2. “I’ll train those young, enthusiastic people who were here in the beginning – maybe they can handle managing the business” or 3. “ I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, I only need someone to count the money and pay the bills – I can do everything else myself!”

Whichever the case, or maybe its all of the above, the entrepreneur will sell the business short as they avoid the hiring of competent managers in many facets of the business.

In all cases that entrepreneur is the boss; he is the one with the ideas and the money. If you don’t want to work for one, you can put the money up and become one yourself. Why do I say this? I say this because you have to respect the person who is willing to put up their own funds to bring their idea to fruition. That level of respect is necessary for you to begin to do the right job for this type of employer.

Now, you could be working for a corporation that is managed by a Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, President, as well as a long list of upper management staff with titles such as Vice President of Operations, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Administration and on and on and on. Sometimes these organizations seem very top heavy, but if you belong to one, everyone seems so busy attending meetings, creating reports and directing projects.

Does this mean all these positions are necessary? Maybe yes and maybe no. How can you tell? How can you impact this organization in such a way as to eliminate waste while not upsetting the delicate balance that is that Company’s culture? In this case the corporate culture can be buried in bureaucracy, paperwork, meetings to discuss the structure of meetings, documentation to support the documentation and if you are lucky, a product line that somehow sells itself in spite of the corporate overhead and overwhelmingly slow moving progress.

Passion for the “mission” is hard to find in many large corporate environments. If you are looking for a challenge or to make a difference, the corporate executive who sets the culture may not be ready for all that upheaval. Be ready for change to occur slowly and your dedication can and will be tested.

So, keep your focus no matter what personality you work for, the structured CEO or the wildcat entrepreneur. The focus is on quality, knowledge, a high level of interpersonal skills and the most important; the highest level of integrity.

Once you understand the environment, you can and will be ready to face the challenge.

Many factors are part of your career decisions. Be sure to do your homework!


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